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Adab 08: The Proprieties of Travel

Ustadh Tabraze Azam writes on the proprieties of travel and how one can make even a simple journey an act of true worship.

True, meaningful journeying is found in spiritual wayfaring. In other words, the journey from sin and disobedience to righteous acts and godfearingness, from heedlessness to presence, from distance to proximity, and from everything which Allah hates to everything Allah loves. This is the kind of journey that we will be deeply grateful for when we cast a backwards glance, to here, from the next life. This life is a time of planting the seeds, and the next is when we’ll harvest. Allah Most High says, “It will be as if they had stayed in the world no more than one evening or its morning.” (Sura al-Nazi‘at 79:46)

If things seem bleak for us, then let us be optimistic, as was the prophetic sunna, and make a change for the better today. In an instant, the turmoil and degradation of life in disobedience can be transformed, by His Grace, into something tremendous and everlasting. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, as part of a lengthier tradition (hadith), “One of you would observe the works of the people of the Hellfire until there is only a cubit between him and it, but then the register would forestall him and he would perform an act of the people of Paradise and consequently enter it.” (Bukhari) Whoever strives for Allah will find Him before him, and whoever traverses an upright, trodden, prophetic path will find great blessing, or baraka, in his life journey.

Purpose in Journeys

In the famous tradition (hadith) of intention, the Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Whoever has migrated to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger. And whosoever has migrated to obtain worldly means or to marry a woman, his migration is for the sake of what he has migrated for.” (Bukhari) What we can learn from this tradition (hadith) is that travel should be to Allah, and by extension, His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace. This doesn’t mean travel only to Makka and Madina, but to travel with Lordly intent, direction and focus.

Realize that all travel is a reminder of the soul’s trajectory from this world to the next, and the successful person is the one who recognizes the need for His Lord, traverses the journey of his life for His Lord, and attains the Pleasure of his Lord for eternity. In deciding to journey, let the intention be clearly for Allah, and naturally, your spiritual compass will be facing the right direction as you proceed. As Ibn ‘Ata Illah al-Sakandari stated, “Whoever’s beginning is illumined, their ending is illumined.” (al-Hikam)

Religious Preparation

A consistent theme in prophetic practice was prayer before any meaningful matter, and travel, in this sense, is no different. It is reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, would regularly perform two cycles (rak‘as) before heading out on any journey. (Tabarani) Make it a point to renew your repentance, pay back anybody that’s owed anything from you and to leave sufficient food and money for your family, if required.

It would be from proper manners and due diligence to ensure that you pack everything you’ll need, both for your worldly and religious affairs. The former is straightforward for most, so let us concentrate on the latter. Thinking ahead would entail traveling with some kind of compass and prayer rug. Compasses are easily available on most handheld devices, but it’s useful to have a backup. Similarly, and depending on the nature of the journey, you should consider taking a smooth stone with you for the purposes of the dry ablution (tayammum). Razors, or anything similar which does the job, and nail clippers should also be carried with you as these are facilitators of personal hygiene, namely, something which is of religious significance.

The Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, encouraged us to leave a bequest or final testament. (Bukhari) This document should expressly state your desire to have your possessions distributed according to the Islamic laws of inheritance. If this document can also be officially recognized in your country of residence, you should take the means to make it as such, not merely for travel, but as a document which you have ready in the case of death. Moreover, you should include any debts owed, whether to other people, or to Allah Most High in the form of missed prayers, fasts and the like. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to make these matters up in your lifetime! Rather, it affirms your commitment to lift your dues, even in the case of death. The general rule is that you should make up anything which requires making up as soon as possible.

Setting Out: When and How

Our Master Ka‘b ibn Malik, may Allah be well-pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to “like setting out on Thursdays.” (Bukhari) And Sakhr ibn Wada‘a, may Allah be well-pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to supplicate by saying “O Allah, bless my community in their early mornings.” (Abu Dawud) From these and other traditions, the scholars explain that there is a secret of increase, or baraka, in setting out in the morning times, particularly on Thursdays. When this isn’t possible, some of the scholars recommend Mondays, then Saturdays – which has also been related, and then any other day (avoiding Fridays as much as possible).

In setting out, it is also from the sunna to bid farewell to family and loved ones in order to attain the blessings of their supplications for safety, facilitation and otherwise. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is reported to have bidden farewell by saying, “I entrust your affair to Allah who doesn’t allow his trusts to go to waste.” (Ibn Majah) Upon leaving, he, Allah bless him and give him peace, would often supplicate with the following: “Glory be to the One who has subjected these to us, for we could have never done so on our own. And surely to our Lord we will all return. O Allah, we ask You in this journey of ours for piety and godfearingness, and action which is pleasing to You. O Allah, make this journey of ours easy for us, and fold up its distance. O Allah, You are the Companion in the journey and the Protector of our family. O Allah, I seek refuge with You from the hardship of this journey, any sight which brings sorrow, and a harmful return in [our] wealth, family and children.” (Muslim)

It is also established to say the takbir (Allahu akbar) often, and to supplicate as much as you reasonably can as the supplication of a traveler is accepted. (Abu Dawud) For example, you could ask Allah to facilitate your purification and prayers, and not to reject even a single supplication on your journey. More often than not, reciting various remembrances (adhkar) and supplications in such a manner sets the tone for the remainder of the journey. Be the believer who thanks Allah sincerely for the blessings of facilitated travel.

Traveling in a Group and Appointing a Leader

One of the sunnas of travel is to choose righteous companions. The Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, cautioned against lone travel by saying, “If people knew what I know about the harms of being alone, no rider would travel alone through the night.” (Bukhari) Unsurprisingly, the point is about the harms of loneliness in travel, and issues of riding or otherwise, and doing so during the night, are secondary. What the scholars explain is that among the reasons for the interdiction of being alone is that you don’t have anybody to assist you in your affairs, particularly in the case of great harm or injury. Similarly, you cannot fulfill your religious duties fully, such as prayer in congregation, for example. Further, it is known that the devils come out at night, spreading their harm and whispers so it’s best to be with others in order to ward off such matters with greater strength. It’s a lot easier to fall into sin when nobody else is looking.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, also said, “If three people head out on a journey, let them appoint one of them as a leader.” (Abu Dawud) There is great, prophetic wisdom in this because travel is “a piece of torment,” namely, emotionally, psychologically and physically draining, and thus, it is far easier to fall into disagreement with others, get upset with people and to generally fall short in upholding noble character. When there is a chosen leader, ideally the person who is most senior in religiosity and most experienced in travel, then the others are bound to follow his decisions in matters related to travel. When that happens, there is less likely to be discord, or fitna, and any form of argumentation between the traveling companions.

Gracious character entails looking out for your fellow travelers, sharing with them what you have, spending on them – both financially and emotionally, preferring them to yourself, consulting with them, encouraging them to the good, smiling at them, assisting them, checking in on them once in a while, and supplicating for them.

Knowledge of Acts of Religious Devotion

It is important to recognize that different life circumstances have different rulings, and that “the strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer.” (Muslim) Strong believers put Allah first, learn what He has commanded and then strive to implement those Commands, and by extension, Prohibitions, as best they can wherever they find themselves. Although it’s not a condition to know all the details, the general rulings which pertain to your situation should be known as they fall under that which is personally obligatory knowledge or ‘ilm al-hal.

Accordingly, you should make it a point to ensure that you know well the rulings relating to the acts of religious devotion which are altered by travel. The most significant of these, because of its regularity, is the prayer. The basis is that the four cycle (rak‘a) obligatory prayer is shortened to two cycles (rak‘as), and the sunset prayer (maghrib) is left as it is. However, you don’t begin shortening until you have left the city limits, or if not designated, the customarily accepted boundaries of a particular town or city. In the same way, you are only legally considered to be a traveler (musafir) when you are staying somewhere for less than fifteen complete days. If you are staying longer, you’d pray as a resident prays, without shortening any prayers.

During the journey, you would pray the emphasized sunna prayers if you aren’t in an active state of travel. Active travel means that you are hurrying to get to a boarding gate, for example, or are doing something which requires your full attention. In our times, the matter of praying in travel is very much facilitated as you can pray voluntary prayers (except the sunna of fajr) in your seat, in the direction of travel, in almost any mode of transport. In doing so, you would pray with head movements, keeping your head upright for the standing position (qiyam), bending slightly for the bowing (ruku‘) and slightly more for the prostration (sujud). Praying in this manner on modes of transport is an established sunna of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

As for fasting in Ramadan, it is superior to fast unless it will cause you hardship or difficulty. If you choose not to fast, then you must ensure that you have left your city limits by the entrance of dawn (fajr). In the case that you’re still in your hometown at this time, you’d need to fast that day.

Returning with Adab

The general sunna was to return home after the need had been fulfilled, and not to remain in a state of journeying and travel when there was no need for it. Abu Huraira, may Allah be well-pleased with him, reported that the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said as part of a longer tradition (hadith), “So, when one of you fulfills his need, let him return to his family.” (Bukhari) Similarly, he, Allah bless him and give him peace, disliked for somebody to return home in the middle of the night lest he surprise his family in a manner which will cause him harm. Rather, his practice was to return in the morning or afternoon. (Bukhari) Of course, when you have no choice, or when you inform your family of your precise return, then there is no issue. Note that to return after having performed the ritual bath (ghusl) is also meritorious.

Another sunna was to recite the aforementioned supplication [of setting out] on return, with the additional phrase, “Returning, repenting, worshiping and praising our Lord.” Other traditions explain that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, would repeat this just before and until entering Madina, indicating the merit of expressing one’s gratitude for the blessing of returning home safely. The Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, would then proceed to pray two cycles (rak‘as) at the mosque before heading home. (Bukhari) This can be done at any mosque in your city, if reasonably possible without inconvenience and hardship. Otherwise, you can pray it at home in your designated prayer space (musalla) or anywhere else. Why? So that you begin and end your journey with worship and prayer; and secondarily, use it as an indication of a new point of departure in your spiritual life, seeking Allah at the very beginning and every point thereafter.

Great Journeys

Some of the scholars explain that there are some journeys which are truly worth making. From among them, the sacred pilgrimage for either Hajj or ‘umra. The former, especially, is an act of great virtue by which, according to tradition, a person is able to return “like the day his mother gave birth to him,” (Bukhari) namely, cleansed of the lowliness of sin and heedlessness.

In the same vein, great journeys include traveling to redress wrongs, to repay debts, to seek sacred knowledge which cannot otherwise be reasonably attained, to seek safety and protection from oppression and strife, to free oneself from the shackles of habit and sin, to take a break from the rigors of worship and to follow the Divine Command: “Travel throughout the land and see how He originated the creation, then Allah will bring it into being one more time. Surely Allah is Most Capable of everything.” (Sura al-‘Ankabut 29:20)

As for the tradition (hadith) of not journeying to other than the three sacred mosques (Bukhari), this means that you should not travel to pray in other than these mosques in light of their immense, established virtue. It does not mean that you shouldn’t travel at all except to travel to one of these mosques. This is what many scholars have explicitly explained, such as Munawi, Ghazali, Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Suyuti and others.

Finally, and just as we began, the greatest journey of all is the journey of your soul into eternity. As each moment passes, we’re all a single moment closer to leaving this worldly life. It is there, in the hereafter, that actions will take forms and provisions from this life will be required. Let each of us look well to their own lives and how much it corresponds to what Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, called us to. “Whoever finds great good, let him thank Allah. And whoever finds other than that, let him blame none other than himself.” (Muslim) A complete change of direction takes a single moment of sincere repentance, and in that moment, all sin and its traces can be completely wiped away. We ask Allah Most High to bless us with journeys He is eternally pleased with.

And Allah alone gives success.


Food Consumption – A Reader

This reader gathers various guidelines on food consumption, from the etiquette of eating, to what is considered impermissible to eat.

Adab of Eating and Feeding Others

Riyad al-Salihin: Book on the Adab Related to Food

Should We Cover Food?

Is It Permissible to Do Dhikr and Then Blow on Food for Barakah?

Day 1: Food – 30 Deeds 30 Days 

How to Dispose of Leftover Food

True Gratitude for Food – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Food And Worship -The Enormous Correlation

When the Call to Prayer is Given and Food is on the Table What Should I Do?

08 – Food Etiquette – SeekersHub Podcast

Avoiding the Impermissible

A Guide for Consuming Various Meats, Foods, Alcohol, Animal By-Products and Cosmetics

Is It Permissible to Blow on Food to Cool it Down?

Is It Permissible to Eat Vegetarian Food Prepared by Non-muslims? 

Can I Give Impermissible Food to Non-Muslims?

Should I Eat at Restaurants With Food Cross-Contamination Issues?

Are Dishes in Which Pork and Other Haram Food was Eaten Made Pure by Washing?

What Is the Ruling Regarding Accidentally Consuming Haram Food?

Is Unethical Food Permissible to Eat?

Adab 07: The Proprieties of Earning a Living

Ustadh Tabraze Azam dives deep into the proprieties of earning a lawful income, its virtues, and its rewards in this life and in the life to come.

The trustworthy, honest trader will be with the prophets, the truthful, and the martyrs [on the Day of Judgement], said the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. (Tirmidhi)

When we live up to the ideals and deep, moral standards of the religion, we can be hopeful of something tremendous from Allah in the hereafter. After all, this life is merely a means to the next, and not an end-goal in and of itself. Earning a livelihood is something that most of us can probably relate to, but our fast-paced lives, however, can sometimes hinder our ability to simply pause for a moment and review our trajectory into eternity. Seldom is a moment of contemplation void of any lasting benefit when it is for Allah.

As we try to reconnect with our faith and live it more faithfully, with propriety, we should recall the words of Allah in which He informs us that He “made the day for livelihood.” (Sura al Naba’ 78:11) Thus, it is Allah’s favor upon us by which we are blessed with days in which we can fulfill the purpose of that time. A believer is a “son of his moment,” namely, somebody concerned with being in the right places at the right times, and doing what will be most pleasing to Allah therein. With gratitude, we can come to appreciate the most menial of tasks, and with gratitude, Allah increases us in ways we couldn’t otherwise imagine.

With this in mind, let us now turn our attention to some of the proper manners to be upheld in seeking a living for Allah.

Righteous Intentions (Niyya Saliha)

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, reminded us that a believer’s intention is better than his action or work itself (Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman). Accordingly, getting our intentions right will ensure that we receive a splendid, unspeakable reward from Allah Most High even if we’re not prosperous, even if we don’t fulfil our hopes and dreams and even if it simply wasn’t meant to be. This is a huge mercy.

What, then, should we intend? Above all, to seek the pleasure of Allah Most High as this is the point of life itself. When you have such a noble intention, the most mundane of tasks can transform into something sacred. But given the difficulty of maintaining such a lofty state, the scholars recommend having secondary intentions which act as the pathways to the central intention.

Thus, intend to:

    1. 1) abstain from begging,

 

    1. 2) abstain from coveting what others have,

 

    1. 3) become financially strong and independent,

 

    1. 4) provide for your dependants,

 

    1. 5) uphold the values and ethics of the Sacred Law of integrity, commanding the good and otherwise,

 

    1. 6) fulfil a personal and a communal obligation (fard ‘ayn/kifaya),

 

    1. 7) make regular charitable donations,

 

    8) be of service to Allah’s creation, and similarly any other intention that comes to mind of virtuous matters.

Reliance (Tawakkul) upon Allah Most High

Our Master ‘Umar, Allah be pleased with him, reported that Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If you relied upon Allah as He should be relied upon, He would give you sustenance just as the birds are given sustenance: they leave hungry in the morning, and return satiated in the evening.” (Tirmidhi) He, Allah bless him and give him peace, also told the Bedouin man who asked about the manner of true reliance (tawakkul) to “tie the camel, and then rely upon Allah.” (Tirmidhi)

Reliance, as defined by Jurjani in his Ta‘rifat, is confidence and contentment with what is Allah’s, and despair with respect to what is in the hands of people. Namely, realising that Allah alone is the sole doer, and consequently, that it is not people who will prevent your livelihood from reaching you as they are intrinsically incapable and needy. Rather, He is the Sufficer (al-Wakil), and He alone gives and constricts as He wills. So what’s the point of taking the means? Because the lawgiver commanded it.

True reliance upon Allah isn’t negated by taking the means as the two matters are distinct. Reliance upon Allah is a state of the heart whereas taking the means (asbab) is an action of the limbs. When the two are conjoined, the fullest and truest meaning of reliance is realised. And this is why Imam Birgivi wrote, “Taking the outward means which normally lead to the outcomes desired doesn’t negate reliance at all, and this is why earning a living is an obligation.” (Al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya)

Practizing a Lawful and Dignified Trade

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed us, “No one eats any food better than the one who eats from what he earns by work of his own hands. The Prophet of Allah, Dawud, peace be upon him, used to eat from what he earned by the work of his own hands.” (Bukhari) Note that this is a metaphor for earning a living and not that the best line of work is carpentry, baking or any other work in which the hands are directly used! Moreover, the Prophet Dawud, Allah bless him and give him peace, wasn’t in need of such work and wealth as he was the Caliph of the entire earth at the time. However, the tradition (hadith) informs us of the nobility of the rank of working and his desire to do what was superior and more pleasing to Allah Most High.

When choosing a line of work, look for the kind of opportunities which you are deeply interested in, and also allow you to fulfill your potential, yet at the same time, don’t infringe upon any of your religious obligations. Primarily, this latter point entails that your very line of work needs to be lawful. Engaging in, encouraging or abetting sin is destructive to your hereafter. Keep such lines of work at a healthy distance so that you don’t have to explain yourself, or worse, bear the consequences, later. If you’re unsure regarding the legality or otherwise of your work, you should consult a reliable scholar before making any serious decisions.

Avoiding the Unlawful (Haram) and Offensive (Makruh)

The basis in transactions is the verse of the Qur’an, “You who believe, do not wrongfully consume each other’s wealth but trade by mutual consent.” (Sura al Nisa’ 4:29) The masterful Ottoman Qur’anic exegete, Abu al-Su‘ud Effendi, clarified that “wrongfully” means anything that is contrary to the Sacred Law, whether that is by way of theft, misappropriation, deception, gambling, engaging in usurious dealings, or anything else that the Sacred Law interdicted.

Our religion encourages us to engage in trade, but it is imperative that we avoid the kind of unethical behavior that many, unfortunately, fall into, let alone sin. The recognition that lack of clarity in transactions leads to unnecessary disputes and argumentation, for example, should move us to do something about it. Appreciate that things sometimes go wrong so be clear with one another about the terms of your agreement so that you don’t lose each other in mere worldliness. The way out, then, is to be grounded in sufficient law, or fiqh, which will ensure that you don’t fall into the religiously blameworthy or unlawful altogether.

As part of a longer tradition, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Do not be resentfully envious of one another, do not artificially inflate prices against one another, do not loathe one another, do not give a cold shoulder to one another, do not undercut one another in business transactions, but be, servants of Allah, brothers.” (Muslim)

Learning A Trade Well (Itqan) and Doing A Good Job (Ihsan)

Allah Most High says, “Indeed, We granted David a great privilege from Us, commanding: ‘O mountains! Echo his hymns! And the birds as well.’ We made iron mouldable for him, instructing: ‘Make full-length armor, perfectly balancing the links. And work righteousness O family of David! Indeed, I am All-Seeing of what you do.’” (Sura Saba 34:10-11) Something we can take away from this latter verse is the Divine injunction to the Prophet Dawud, Allah bless him and give him peace, to perfect his trade and not simply to produce something that others couldn’t.

Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, continually guiding us to what Allah loves, is reported to have once stated, “Allah is pleased when any of you does some action and perfects it.” (Tabarani) One of the hallmarks of believers is that they work, not only to produce, but to beautify. The trait of excellence, or ihsan, is deeply rooted in tradition and a foundational principle of the prophetic way. Practically, if you’re doing something, do it well. Don’t sell yourself short, and be an example to others in the trade, particularly when you are noticeably religious in societies where Islam is something unfamiliar.

Exhibiting Mercy (Rahma) and Other Praiseworthy Traits in Dealings

Whether you run your own business or work for another, you should always try to keep your heart in the right place, and at the same time, exhibit what you can of lofty, prophetic character traits. Taking it easy with people, particularly with those of lesser means, is a sure way of attaining the great good foretold by the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah reported that Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “May Allah show mercy to a man who is generous and easy-going when he sells, when he buys and when he asks for settlement.” (Bukhari)

Use the opportunity of work to remember your Lord and reset your intentions. Imam Sha‘rani related that his teacher and guide, ‘Ali al-Khawass, used to supplicate to Allah upon opening his store every morning, “O Lord, make this a means of benefiting your creation.”

Likewise, there is great virtue in remembering Allah in the marketplaces or in places of general heedlessness. Make it a point to say the takbir (Allahu akbar), tahmid (Alhamdu li Llah), tahlil (La ilaha illa Llah) and tasbih (Subhana Llah) at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon in seeking the closeness of Allah Most High. If you have more motivation, you can recite the blessed words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “There is no god but Allah. He is alone and has no partner. To Him belongs sovereignty and to Him belongs all praise. He gives life and He gives death. He is alive and does not die. In His hand is all good, and He has power over all things.” (Tirmidhi)

Giving from What You Love: Charity (Sadaqa) and the Afterlife

Allah Most High says, “You will never achieve righteousness until you donate some of what you cherish. And whatever you give is certainly well known to Allah.” (Sura Al-‘Imran, 3:92) Further, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us that charity is a “proof.” (Muslim) A proof of what? Faith. When you give, you are showing your deep certitude and faith in Allah Most High, in the truth of the prophetic message, in the veracity of the hereafter and everything that entails.

The best of giving is when it is selfless, sincerely for Allah and swiftly forgotten. Consistent donations, even if only slight, are superior to sporadic payments, even if large. Charity wards off calamities, wipes out sins, cleanses and purifies wealth and draws you nearer to your Ever-Merciful Lord.

Finally, it behooves us to recognize that the reality of earning a living is that it is Allah Most High who is the Provider (al-Razzaq). The wage which you earn is merely a means which He has created, and, at the end of the day, He is the one who creates sustenance (rizq) through it. So although wealth may sometimes come and go, know that it doesn’t intrinsically aid one.

The ultimate objective is to be ever-cognizant of the Divine, and to travel toward Him with a deep desire to live an ethical, pleasing life: the kind of life the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) directed us towards. “Say, O Prophet, ‘If you sincerely love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’” (Sura Aal ‘Imran, 3:31)

And Allah alone gives success.


I Hate My Future Wife’s Father

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked for advice concerning the hatred a person feels toward a future father-in-law, and how they fear that may ruin the marriage.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I hope everyone is well. I really hate my future wife’s father. I really love her and I don’t want to leave her because of her father but I fear that we will clash a lot in the future.

He has a good heart but he doesn’t know how to speak to people with adab. He is very abusive and you can’t have a discussion or conversation with him. He always thinks he is right and once he wants something it is impossible for him to go back on it or to even see what other people think or want.

He is very judgemental and I just cant stand his character. He wants the best for me and her but he just doesn’t know how to go about it. I’ve seen a lot from him that just puts me off and I fear it will ruin my future relationship with my wife.

I am getting married in a couple of weeks and I would like some advice.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Future father-in-law

Your future wife’s father sounds like a extremely troubled and difficult man. The worst thing you can do to yourself is try to change him. This may feel impossible, but I encourage you work on accepting him as he is. As improbable as it may sound, your future father-in-law is doing the best he can, with what he knows.

It is possible that he may struggle with an undiagnosed mental illness. He could be deeply anxious, which manifests in angry and controlling behavior. He could be depressed, which could also manifest as anger. I do not suggest that you tell him to see a therapist, because he is like to get offended and go into denial. I do suggest that you consider these reasons for his behavior, to help soften your heart.

I encourage you you make dua for him after every obligatory prayer. Perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to heal him, help you come to terms with him, bless your upcoming marriage, and whatever else you wish.

Marriage

I encourage you to work on healthy boundaries with your future wife. Without healthy boundaries, it is very possible for your marriage to fail because of the interference of a domineering father-in-law.

Your future wife probably carries a lot of pain from having a father like hers. His behavior is not her fault. She is an adult, and responsible only for her actions. However, a daughter’s difficult relationship with a troubled father does have an impact on her feelings of self-worth.

Because of the difficulty and sensitivity of your situation, I strongly encourage that you and your future wife work with a culturally-sensitive counselor.

Agency

Jarir bin Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Whoever does not show mercy to the people, Allah will not show mercy to him.” (Tirmidhi)

Please remember that you always have agency. You can always choose compassion, forgiveness and patience. It is harder to do this, because it is always easier to blame, shame and play the victim. That route is much easier on the nafs, whereas taking the high road is pleasing Allah.

Practical tips

When you are married, I encourage you to visit your father-in-law weekly with your wife. Be civil and kind. Do not bring up controversial topics. Be of service to him. Does he need help around the house? Can you help him run errands? What are some activities you can do together? Do your best to connect with him. Make the intention to embody good character, especially when he is being difficult.

If interactions with him become far too stressful and you fear for the health of your marriage, then I suggest that you and your wife limit contact with him. Do not cut ties, but at least visit for Eid and other special occasions. In the end, he remains the grandfather of your future children. I pray that your compassion with him in his old age will facilitate your own unborn children to be kind to you in your old age.

In whatever situation you may find yourself with your future father-in-law, I encourage you to choose mercy. Choose what is pleasing to Allah and His Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Think of the long-term benefit, when you face short-term pain.

May Allah bless your marriage and make it a means of healing for you and your wife.

Please see: Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered.

Wassalam,

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Prophetic Parenting: Q&A – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Prophetic Parenting series, taught by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani,  covers 40 Hadiths on raising righteous Muslim children. This segment of the Prophetic Parenting series covers some commonly asked questions and answers.

What are the three aspects of parenting?

They are tarbiya (upbringing) ta’deeb (instilling of adab) and ta’leem (teaching). These must come in order, and parents must have a plan for what they want for their children, and have goals. By raising them with concern, children will be led to have good character.

To what extent are we responsible for the choices of our children when they grow up?

We are responsible for taking the means that we can, but we cannot control outcomes. Normally, if the right means are taken with the right intentions, we can be reasonably sure to expect the right results. However, if you took the means but yet they drift, your responsibility remains to advise, and be of sincere concern.  You can do this without imposing on them or being overbearing.

If two parents do not agree, what should they do?

All affairs have to be through mutual consultation, with each other and with trusted elders and scholars. They should agree to have a healthy marriage, and how to discuss issues that come up in a respectful and safe manner.

About the Series

As Muslims, we take family and our children seriously. We seek clarity and guidance to raise upright, righteous, successful Muslim children who love Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will cover 40 hadiths on parenting.

Beginning with how to choose a spouse while keeping in mind future parenting, to raising and educating children from when they’re small to when they are young adults. We will also see beautiful, faith-inspiring examples of the Prophet’s mercy, gentleness, wisdom, and excellence in his own parenting and dealing with children–while inculcating in them the highest of aspiration, discipline, curiosity, intelligence, and spiritual resolve.


Adab 06: The Adab of the Mosque Pt II

Ustadh Tabraze Azam reminds is of the honor Allah has bestowed upon the mosque as a place of worship and the importance of right conduct in it.

Allah Most High says:

Light upon light! Allah guides whoever He wills to His light. And Allah sets forth parables for humanity. For Allah has perfect knowledge of all things. That light shines through houses of worship which Allah has ordered to be raised, and where His Name is mentioned. He is glorified there morning and evening. (Sura al Nur 24:35-36)

Proper manners take time to inculcate. But the more sacred the space or setting, the greater the emphasis is in maintaining a high bar. Each time we display something of a higher level of religion, and thank Allah for it, He increases us out of His generosity. Each time we apply ourselves to a deeper level of excellence, it only shows Allah Most High that we truly care and that His religion is certainly something very dear to us.

“And whoever honours the symbols of Allah, it is certainly out of the piety of the heart.” (Sura al Hajj 22:32) A heart stationed between regular gratitude for Allah’s blessings and a look to the eternal life is the kind of heart that is moved to work righteous deeds, even if only seemingly slight.

With this in mind, let us now turn to the remainder of the proper manners (adab) and sunnas relating to mosques, the houses of Allah Most High.

Sanctity: Physical and Spiritual

One matter which must be remembered at all times is that the mosque has a sanctity (hurma). Upholding this entails that we keep it not only physically clean, which is obvious, but spiritually clean too, namely, from distractions and matters which disturb the stillness and serenity therein. Accordingly, young children who don’t understand the concept of what a mosque or prayer is should be left at home. If there is a need for them to be present, they should be kept beside you so that they can be reminded to remain quiet.

Similarly, you should take a moment to ensure that your phone is muted or turned off as you enter the mosque. It is unbecoming to enter into a sacred space of worshipers and then disturb them with, sometimes, unfortunate ringtones. This is much more emphatic when it occurs during the prayer, so you should use slight movements to quiet down the phone if it happens.

If the phone is away from you, you may need to break the prayer lest it cause further annoyance to the other praying persons. Needless to say, the same would apply to an inconsolable child. Infringing upon the rights of others is a serious matter.

Public Lessons, Sermons, and Recitation

Generally, recitation is something which is a private matter. There is, however, benefit in louder recitation which has a more powerful effect on the heart, mind and soul as more limbs take part in the process. If you would like to recite aloud, you should choose an appropriate place to sit, away from those who are praying and others who may be engaged in worship. The basis is that the mosque is for private devotion so you should be careful that your recitation doesn’t unknowingly become something else.

The exception is when there are public events such as the weekly Friday sermon, or the occasional marriage ceremony (nikah) – depending on the time of year! – or the ‘eid sermon. When such sermons begin, it is not permitted to talk or pray until, depending on circumstance, the sermon or prayer ends. Other public lessons or events in appointed times are also exempted from the general rule and you should strive to give the speaker the respect due.

Worldly Activities

Part of maintaining the dignity of this sacred space is ensuring that we don’t violate what is was made for by engaging in worldly affairs in it. Buying and selling in the mosque is something that was interdicted by the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, as the mosque isn’t supposed to be a kind of marketplace, even if you entered to pray. (Abu Dawud) So that book you wanted from Amazon will have to wait some minutes!

In the same way, eating and drinking was generally inappropriate as it is distracting, brings in smells and affects the entire space. But this doesn’t negate the fact that the one who is engaged in a spiritual retreat (mu’takif) is in fact permitted to do these things because he is bound to stay in the mosque. Otherwise, activities other than prayer, remembrance, recitation and other devotion is best done elsewhere.

Obeying the Imam (Wali al Amr)

The basis is to obey those who have authority over one in a particular context. Putting aside the legal nuances, the general idea is that, for example, you should listen well to the host when he directs you, as the guest, to your seat or the food.

Similarly, the imam of the mosque is working within his capacity as the authority figure and he should be obeyed when he orders the rows to be straightened, gaps to be filled or appoints somebody to lead the prayer on his behalf, namely, those matters which are in the greater interests of everybody within the mosque and taking part in the congregational prayer.

All of these matters are within his domain and he has a right to choose as he sees fit. Nevertheless, when he is mistaken, he remains a fellow believer who deserves dignity, respect and sincere counsel (nasiha), so it should be afforded to him with full and proper decorum.

The Call to Prayer (Adhan)

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “When it is time for prayer, let one of you give the adhan.” (Bukhari) This is one of the strongest of the sunnas of our religion and a sign and marker of Islam itself. It is a means of reminding us of the pre-eternal call of the Divine and a reminder of the reality of life and the proximity of the Hereafter. So it behooves us to make it a point to become of those who “respond to Allah and His messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life.” (Sura al Anfal 8:24)

The one giving the call to prayer (adhan) should know the prayer times, face the qibla, be in a state of ritual purification, beautify his voice, and elongate the words, yet without exaggerating such that the adhan becomes very long.

The sunna of the one listening is to respond to the adhan by repeating the words after the caller. Then one and all should send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and supplicate for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be granted the Station of Mediation (wasila).

Supplication upon Entering and Exiting

It from the sunna to supplicate when entering and leaving mosques. Imam Nawawi writes in his Book of Remembrances (al-Adhkar) that a person can recite the following supplication, for example, upon entering: “O Allah, open for me the doors of Your mercy’ (allahumma iftah li abwab rahmatik).” And upon leaving, he would say, “O Allah, I ask of You from Your bounty’ (Allahumma inni as’aluka min fadlik).” (Muslim)

We ask Allah Most High to clothe us inwardly and outwardly in beauty so that our hearts and limbs fall into true submission at all times, and so that we genuinely become “masajid” ourselves, or vessels of sincere, humble, perpetual worship.

And Allah alone gives success.


In this series of articles and podcasts, Ustadh Tabraze Azam discusses the meaning of adab and what it means for a Muslim to do things in the right way.


Adab 05: The Adab of the Mosque Pt I

Ustadh Tabraze Azam reminds us of the honor Allah has bestowed upon the mosque as a place of worship and the importance of right conduct in it.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said:

The most beloved of places to Allah are the mosques. (Muslim)

Indeed, the greatest of places on the face of the earth in the sight of Allah Most High is the mosque. What does it mean for a place to beloved to Allah? It means that He inscribes tremendous good for the people therein. And why are they beloved? Because they are places where the most supreme form of worship occurs, namely, scores of believing men and women planting their faces humbly in the ground before their All-Powerful Lord.

In another hadith, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, stated that the meadows of Paradise are the mosques themselves because they are the places where sincere, worshipful devotion occurs – the kind of devotion which leads to ultimate felicity.

The Centrality of the Mosque

The centrality of the mosque to everyday life for a Muslim can be ascertained from one of the first matters the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, engaged in upon reaching Madina, specifically, the founding and subsequent building of Masjid Quba’, and thereafter his own mosque, Allah bless him and give him peace.

The mosque, then, should be a beacon of light for the community: a haven in times of religious and worldly need, a shelter and refuge for the underprivileged and needy, a gathering-place for worship and devotion, a means of strengthening community ties and a place to beseech and long for the Divine.

As we continue to strive to put Allah first in our lives and become people grounded in Islam, inwardly and outwardly, we turn now to the proper manners and sunnas of the mosque. If we cannot make Islam work fully elsewhere just yet, then at the very least we can certainly strive our utmost in the place most beloved to Him.

There are a number of matters here which are worth highlighting, and accordingly, this first post will outline the first set of issues and a subsequent post will discuss the remainder.

The Prayer of Greeting the Mosque

In reality, this is a prayer of greeting the Lord of the mosque, and not merely the mosque itself, as places themselves aren’t greeted. The point is that you pray in the mosque in order to fulfill this right (haqq). The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If you enter a mosque, then don’t sit until you have prayed two cycles.” (Bukhari)

Accordingly, any prayer prayed, whether specifically intended as the Prayer of Greeting the Mosque (tahiyyat al-masjid), a sunna prayer associated with the obligatory prayers, or even the obligatory, prescribed prayer itself, would fulfill this sunna. But remember that you cannot pray it during sunrise, midday and sunset, nor can you pray it after the obligatory dawn (fajr) or the mid-afternoon (‘asr) prayers.

If you enter the mosque, practically speaking, right before the midday (zuhr) or sunset (maghrib) prayers, you should instead recite some forms of remembrances (adhkar), such as glorification (tasbih), praise (tahmid) and utterances affirming the oneness of Allah Most High (tahlil). By the blessing (baraka) of such words and utterances, and the Grace of Allah Most High, you will attain the reward of the prayer and much more.

As an aside, note that the manner of greeting the Mosque of the Sacred Precinct (masjid al-haram) is to perform seven circuits of circumambulation (tawaf) around the Ka‘ba for the upon whom this is due or intends to perform it. This is a ruling specific to this blessed mosque partly because one of the greatest acts of worship a visitor can do there is the circumambulation.

The Sunna of I’tikaf

From the established sunna practices of our religion is to remain in the mosque for the spiritual retreat (i’tikaf). The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) would engage in this personal act of devotion yearly in the month of Ramadan. What the scholars have deduced is that this is an emphasised sunna (sunna mu’akkada) upon each and every community, namely, that they ensure there is at least one person performing the sunna spiritual retreat (i’tikaf) in the month of Ramadan.

The scholars explain that spiritual retreats can occur any time you enter the mosque. By merely intending it, you can obtain the reward for the retreat by merely being present in the mosque. This is a greater reward and station than someone who enters with the sole intention of prayer because you are engaged in a greater number of acts of devotion in every moment.

While in the retreat, the reward of all your acts of devotion are multiplied. Women can attain the same reward by intending the retreat as they enter their prayer areas at home- needless to say, they also attain the reward upon entry into a mosque.

Joining Congregations and Second Congregations

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us regarding something of the meritorious nature of the prayer of those who join the imam at the opening takbir when he said that they will be written as those saved from the Fire of Hell. (Tirmidhi) If you join within the first cycle, yet after this point, it is effectively as if you caught the imam at the beginning. Joining after the opening takbir entails that the imam may have begun reciting, and as such, you would avoid reciting the opening invocation (thana’) as the duty when the imam is reciting aloud is to listen, and when quietly, to remain silent.

Next, you are only considered to have caught the cycle (rak’a) if you catch the imam whilst he is in the bowing position. In this, you can use your reasonable judgement to determine whether or not he was still minimally bowing – namely, closer to bowing than standing – when you joined him in the prayer. Thereafter, you would make up the cycles you missed after the imam’s final and closing salams, beginning with the opening invocation (thana’) just as you would normally begin a prayer.

As for formal second congregations, these are generally considered to be unwise, wrong and disliked. Rather, you would pray individually if you missed the congregational prayer. However, other scholars maintained that a second congregation is in fact acceptable if it is performed distinctly from the first, such as by praying away from the main prayer niche (mihrab) and without a call to prayer (adhan) and the like.

Similarly, you should use your common sense in deciding where to pray and how loud to pray. If there are other events occurring in the mosque at the same time, you should be courteous and respectful, given that you were late, and pray in lowered tones in a corner or outside the main hall.

Praying the Sunna Prayers

Usually, what is superior is to pray the sunna prayers before their respective obligatory, prescribed prayers at home. Excuses such as greater focus and less distraction may entail praying them in the mosque. In doing so, it is important to remember that if the imam has begun the congregational prayer, you should forfeit the sunna to join the congregation.

After the congregational prayer, you may make up the sunna of the midday (zuhr) prayer alone. The dawn (fajr) and midday (zuhr) prayers are the only times in which there is an emphasised sunna prayer before the obligatory prayer (‘asr and ‘isha have a recommended sunna respectively). Sunnas, generally speaking, aren’t made up except in exceptional circumstances.

The exception to the rule above is the sunna prayer connected to the obligatory dawn (fajr) prayer. In such a case, you would pray the sunna prayer, despite the ongoing congregation, as long as you will be able to catch the congregation before the imam says the closing salams. There is, however, an important, oft-forgotten sunna here, namely, that you should ensure to pray this prayer in a somewhat secluded spot, well away from the congregation itself.

There is a strong emphasis on unity and the mere resemblance of disunity (even though the person is doing something tremendous) is wrong, so much so, that if you cannot find an appropriate place to pray, the jurists informed us that the sunna prayer should be left altogether. Warding off harm takes precedence over the attainment of benefits, and this is something that we would all do well to take some time to consider.

We ask Allah Most High to grant us true openings and foresight by which we can perceive what will ultimately benefit us in this life and the next, and the ability to sincerely work righteous deeds in seeking Him, the Lord of Mercy, alone.

And Allah alone gives success.


In this series of articles and podcasts, Ustadh Tabraze Azam discusses the meaning of adab and what it means for a Muslim to do things in the right way.


Obituary: Shaykh Abd al Rahman Ba ‘Abbad

Shaykh Abd al Rahman ibn Abdullah Ba ‘Abbad hails from a tribe which has long been known for knowledge and piety in Hadramawt. The Ba ‘Abbad tribe trace its lineage to our master Uthman bin Affan, may Allah be pleased with him.

 

His first teacher was his father, Shaykh Abdullah, who later directed him to Habib Umar ibn Hafiz to complete his spiritual instruction. His in depth legal training came at the hands of Habib Abd al Qadir ibn Salim Rawsh al Saqqaf, Mufti of Hadramawat. He also took knowledge from Habib ‘Abd al Qadir ibn Ahmad al Saqqaf and the other great scholars of his time.

Although still young in years, many people benefited from his wisdom and witnessed his beautiful character both in his home town of Al Ghurfah and in Yemen, the Middle East and South East Asia.

He contributed significantly to the renewal of traditional Islam in Hadramawt and students came from far and wide to study in the institute which he established and directed, Ribat al Is’ad, in his hometown, Al Ghurfah.

Those who attended the annual visit to the Prophet Hud, peace be upon him, will remember his powerful speeches in the mosque established by his illustrious ancestors, Masjid Ba ‘Abbad. He was always a voice of reason and moderation and helped to maintain unity among the tribes of Hadramawt. He expended all his efforts to prevent bloodshed during the current conflict in Yemen.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahman was killed in a car crash in Oman on 12 Muharram 1440 (22 September 2018). May Allah raise his station and the station of Hasan ibn Muhammad Ba ‘Abbad who died alongside him and bless their loved ones with patience and contentment. His loss comes after the loss of his younger brother, Shaykh Muhammad, also a promising young scholar, in recent years.

May Allah enable his youngest brother, Shaykh Ma‘ruf to continue to carry the banner of the Prophetic legacy.

[Al Fatiha]


Reposted with gratitude to Muwasala.org.

Obituary: Habib Abbas al Saqqaf

As the year 1439 came to a close, the Ummah lost one of its great men, Habib Abbas ibn Muhammad ibn Ali al Saqqaf, the most senior of the Ba Alawi scholars in Singapore.

Habib Abbas al Saqqaf

Habib Abbas was born in Singapore in 1923. He studied the Islamic sciences with the principal scholars of the city, including two great jurists: Shaykh Umar bin Abdullah al Khatib and Qadi al Shihr Habib Shaykh bin Abdullah al Habashi. He then taught at a variety of places around Singapore.

The great caller to Allah, Habib Abd al Qadir al Saqqaf, indicated that Habib Abbas should establish gatherings of knowledge in his house and it duly became a focal point where the scholars and students of Singapore would gather.

The most frequented and well known of these gatherings was on Saturday morning in which the mawlid of Habib Ali al Habashi, Simt al Durar, was recited and a lesson in tasawwuf would be delivered. Any scholar visiting Singapore would make a point of visiting Habib Abbas. He passed away on 29th Dhu’l Hijjah 1439 (10th September 2018).

Let us heed his oft-given advice: always be humble, show respect to your elders and show respect to all, regardless of whether they rich or poor, beggars or government ministers.

May Allah raise Habib Abbas to the highest of stations and allow his legacy to live on.

[Al Fatiha]


Reposted with gratitude to Muwasala.org.

Forgotten Sunnas: Greetings of Peace – Shaykh Jamir Meah

In this final article of the series, Shaykh Jamir Meah discusses one of the simplest yet most important everyday sunnas that is sometimes neglected; greeting each other with salam, the greeting of peace.

Many Muslims, both in the East and West, are not accustomed to saying salam to family and friends, and even more so to strangers. For others, salams are given multiple times throughout the day, however, it is often restricted to people we know, or only when returning greetings.

When we pass a fellow Muslim on the street, or sit next to each other on the train or bus, we are often hesitant to give salam. This could be for many reasons. However, it is important to try to overcome this barrier and be as free and generous with our greetings of peace with one another as possible, and ideally, stretch ourselves to even smile or look pleased to see another Muslim!

The salam is universal to all Muslims, so does not require translation. Everywhere you go it is understood. Spreading the salam among ourselves is not only affirmed in the Qur’an and Sunna, but as we’ll see from the prophetic traditions. It has a positive affect for both the people engaged, and potentially, the entire Muslim community.

The Effect of A Simple Greeting

Moreover, we all know what the effect of a simple smile can have on a person’s day, even from a stranger, smiling being a sunna in its own right. Sometimes, little unexpected gestures of kindness and sincerity are enough to lift the mood of a person’s otherwise negative or depressive moods. It is often the start to positive energy being released. When a person is genuinely greeted with a warm, smiley, and sincere salam, it can impart a real sense of reassurance and belonging.

This is ever more essential today as so many people feel insecure and detached in modern society. How many a group of Muslims youths have we walked by, religions far from their mind, but when a person says salam to them, they all immediately return the salam with unexpected fervor and pride?

How many an old person do we pass by, coming and going to and from the local mosque as if invisible, but when the greeting of salam is given to them, their eyes light up with all the intensity and vibrancy of youth? Likewise, many more people, whose private circumstances we can never know, can be touched and uplifted by an honest and simple greeting of peace from a stranger.

Peace

One of the Names of Allah is As Salam, the One Who gives Peace. God is the source of all peace. This is why we say after prayer (which itself concludes with the greetings of salam to those on ones right and to those on ones left):

Allahumma antas salam wa minkas salam tabarakta ya dhal Jalali wal ikram.

O Allah, You are peace, and peace comes from You. Blessed are You, O Possessor of Glory and Honor.

The universal greeting of peace is fundamentally a supplication to God for that person. If we truly mean God’s peace to be upon that person, and they return the same greeting, and we all do this throughout the day to different people, then we can expect Allah Most High to answer these prayers, showering His mercy, blessing and peace upon each person, and then the Umma at large.

The greeting of peace is not restricted to this world, for it will be the greeting not only from the angels to those who enter Paradise: “Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home.” (Sura al Ra‘d 13:24) But more importantly, from God Himself: “And ‘Peace!’ will be [their] greeting from the Merciful Lord.” (Sura Ya Sin 36:57)

Spreading the Salam in the Qur’an and Sunna

Allah Most High tells us in many places in the Qur’an about the importance of spreading greetings among ourselves, ‘And when you are greeted with a greeting, meet it with a greeting better than it, or equal to it. Allah takes account of all things.’ (Sura al Nisa 4:86)

Likewise, the are many traditions of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, which stressed the passing the salam between us, too many to mention in this article. Among the most useful for our purposes are;

Abu Hurairah, Allah be pleased with him, narrated, “You cannot enter Paradise until you are a believer and your belief cannot be complete until you love each other. Should I not guide you to something, which, if you practice it, it will establish bonds of love among you all? Make salam a common practice among yourselves.” (Muslim) Through this simple act, love is implanted in the heart and the sense of unity and brotherhood is given life. Small acts can have tremendous impact on our states.

Abu Umamah, Allah be pleased with him, narrated, The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him,, commanded us to spread the salam.’ (Ibn Majah)

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr bin al ‘As, Allah be pleased with them both, narrated, “A man asked the Messenger of God, blessings and peace be upon him, ‘Which practice of Islam is the best?’ He, blessings and peace be upon him, replied, ‘Give food, and relate the salam to those whom you know and those who you do not know.’”

Methods and Etiquette of Giving Salam

The minimum salam necessary to fulfill the sunna, is to say “Assalamu alaykum” (Peace be upon you). The optimal is to say, “Assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuhu” (Peace be upon you and the Mercy of Allah and His blessings).

Note here that one says the plural attached pronoun “kum” at the end of “alaykum” even if the person being greeted is only one or two people.

The person returns the greeting by saying “Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuhu” (And upon you be peace and the mercy and blessings of Allah).

This full reply is sunna regardless of whether the person was greeted with a simple “Assalam alaykum,” or the optimal “Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.” In the first case, one has fulfilled the words of Allah we mentioned, “meet it with a greeting better than it,” while in the second case one has fulfilled the words of Allah, “or equal to it.”

As mentioned, it is sunna to be genuine, friendly, and cheerful (bashasha) when giving salam and when returning it. One should look the person directly in the face when greeting them.

The salam and its return should be said loud enough so the person it is intended for can hear it. The return should be given straight away, and not delayed.

If a person enters his house, it is sunna to give salam, even if no one is home. The same applies to entering into another’s home, or entering a mosque.

Make It the First and Be the First

One should be eager to offer the greeting first, for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “The best of the two is the one who begins with the salam.” (Bukhari) Therefore, although it may sometime feel awkward, or we hesitate to say salam to strangers, we should strive to overcome any concerns and be eager to say it first, without fear that the person may not respond. Each person is responsible or rewarded for what is in his capacity.

Likewise, the greeting of peace should be the first thing said before any other talk. This applies to between two people or when addressing a group.

Rulings on Giving and Returning Salam

Giving salam: It is sunna to give the salam. The sunna to give the salam is a communal sunna (sunna kifayah), which means it is disliked not to perform without an excuse. It also means that if there is a group of people, it suffices that one of them offers the salam to fulfill the sunna, although optimal if all say salam.

Returning the salam: In regards returning the salam, it is obligatory. If the salam is said to one person, then it is personally obligatory (fard ‘ayn) for that person to return the salam, while if the salam is said to a group of people, the returning of the salam is communally obligatory. So, if one of them returns it, it suffices for the rest, while if none return the salam, they all incur a sin. The optimal again, is for all to return the salam.

There are times, however, when the salam or returning it is not sunna, but rather, disliked or prohibited. Among them it is disliked to give the salam to a person who is relieving themselves, making love, sleeping, very drowsy, in prayer, saying the adhan or iqama. Likewise, it is disliked to say it to a person who has food in his mouth.

As for returning the salam in these situations, it is disliked to return it whilst relieving oneself or making love, and sunna for the one with food in his mouth, or at least when he has swallowed the food. It is prohibited to return the salam verbally during prayer, but sunna to gesture the return with the hands.

For the mu‘adhdhin, it is permissible (not disliked) to return the salam verbally between the words of the adhan. The muqim, the person who says the iqama, should not return it, but rather gesture or return it afterwards, as the iqama is meant to be swift.

As for saying salam to a person reciting the Qur’an, the sounder opinion is that it is still recommended to give salam and mandatory to return it verbally.

Common Scenarios

One of the reasons why fiqh is so captivating (for some anyway!) is because it enters into the everyday, practical aspects of life. Every human act, from the most significant to the most trivial, falls under a legal ruling. Below are a few common, useful, or just interesting, fiqh rulings related to spreading the greetings of peace:

It is a sunna to send salam to people who are not present via a third person. Among the greatest honor of our Lady Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her and shower her with abundant mercy and favor, was that Allah himself sent His Salam upon her via our master Jibril, may Allah be pleased with him. It is narrated that “Jibril came to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! This is Khadija coming to you with a dish of soup (or some food or drink). When she reaches you, greet her on behalf of her Lord and on my behalf.’” (Bukhari)

If a person sends his salam to a person via a third person, such as the third person saying, “So and so sends his salam,” then it is obligatory for the receiver of the message to return the salam verbally. It is also sunna to return the salam to the third person, by saying, “Wa ‘alayka wa ‘alayhi assalam,” (And upon you and him be peace.”)

If one is greeting a deaf person, one should still say the words of the greeting verbally as well as gesture with the hands in a way that the person can understand and is able to return the salam. Likewise, if a deaf person says salam to a person, then one answers by mouth and gesture.

If a person greets a pre-pubescent child, it is not obligatory for the child to return the salam, but it is proper manners and highly recommended for them to do so. If a pre-pubescent child gives salam to an adult, it is obligatory for the adult to return the salam.

If two people greet each other with the salam, and then see each other again very soon after, it is still sunna to greet each other with the salam, and even a third, fifth, sixth time and so on.

It is disliked for a person to say salam to people during the Friday sermon. As for returning his salam, some scholars state that it should not be returned, while others held that it should be returned, but only one person should return it.

Related Issues when Greeting A Person

If a person gives salam to a person who holds religious honor, such as being known for the asceticism, uprightness, knowledge, noble lineage etc., then it is also sunna to kiss their hands, as was the practice of the Sahaba of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, who kissed his blessed hands and feet.

It is also recommended to kiss the hands or cheeks, or/and hug one’s loved ones, such as parents, siblings, or small children when greeting them, out of love, closeness, and mercy. This also applies to a friend who returns from travel.

As for other than these people or non-travelers, it is disliked to hug or kiss others when greeting them. Rather it is sunna to shake hands (same-gender only) when greeting each other and saying the salam. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is reported to have said, “There are no two servants who love each other for the sake of Allah, who meet each other and shake hands … that they do not depart except that their future and past sins are forgiven.” (Kitab Ibn Sunni)

Practical Challenge

I hope the above information has encouraged us all to eagerly spread the greetings of peace to one another each day. The final practical challenge to this series then, is to try to initiate the greeting of peace with as many people as possible each day, with those whom we know and those whom we don’t know.

It would of course be befitting for me to end this article, and this series, with a very warm (and smiley) farewell greeting of peace to you all,

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.